On my first food shoot at Temaki Japanese Resto I had brought everything but the kitchen sink with me — lights, different color backdrops and my DIY lightbox which had been one of many delivery boxes lying unused around the office. I never got to use it during the shoot because the restaurant had a well-lit second floor with glass windows letting the morning sun in at an angle, which was perfect for shooting food.

However I thought that for my next food / product shoot my makeshift lightbox will not do — it was huge and falling apart at the corners. Not very good for a client to see, I thought, so off I went to the Internet again to look at other ways of building a mini-studio.

I found very easy to follow steps here: http://www.pbase.com/wlhuber/light_box_light_tent

However, as with most of the blogs that I saw from either Europe or North America, they used white color PVC, which was not available at Ace Hardware. I could have sourced white pvc pipes from a dedicated construction/builders store but they would have cost around 10x as much as the blue pvc pipes which would no longer be in the “cheap” budget.

I spoke on the phone with MOA Ace Hardware’s Nickson, who very helpfully and patiently took me through pricing on the items I needed, and who also confirmed that they can cut the lengths that I wanted for me at no extra charge.

I had also considered painting the pipes white, but then I would need two cans of spray paint for that, a primer and the actual white coating. A can of spray paint is somewhere between P140 – P180 so I decided to hold off on that unless I find that the blue pvc would have a marked color cast on the end results.

Total cost: P286







I didn’t even bother to use my second roll of tracing paper. I just cut off the ones from the “windows” on my old box and taped them to the side bars of the pvc studio.

And here’s the setup:

And the results:




Shots were taken around 11pm last night with no other lights except the ones on the side, and a speed light. I didn’t put on the top light for these shots. No PP or any levels adjustments either, just resize and post.

I don’t think the pvc needs to be painted white, though. What do you think?

DIY Lightbox Studio – the PVC Edition

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